Diriyah Historic Region

Welcome to Ad Diriyah, birthplace of the first Saudi state, historical crossroads of pilgrims and traders, and home to one of the Kingdom’s most ambitious heritage developments. Curved along the outskirts of Riyadh, and formed on the oasis that spilt from the banks of Wadi Hanifa, Ad Diriyah’s mud-brick walls once housed a thriving desert city that was a powerhouse of culture and commerce. Its Al Turaif district, the area’s citadel-marked primary quarter, was the original seat of power for the Kingdom’s Al Saud family. In 1745, the city was named the country’s capital, laying the foundations for what would later become a unified Saudi Arabia.

Diriyah is one of the oldest and most important heritage sites found in Saudi Arabia. It is the historic capital for Emirate of Diriyah, as well as the original home of the country’s ruling House of Saud. Settlement of the area dates back as far as the time of the prophet Muhammed, although the city itself came to prominence during the 15th century. It remained a significant location in the Arabian Peninsula until internal fighting within the Ottoman Empire led to its destruction and abandonment in 1818. It has been referred to as some as a “sand blown Pompeii” due to its preserved walls and forts. As the Saudi state has grown and modernized Diriyah has been recognized as a major World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It is subsequently becoming one of the kingdom’s biggest tourist attractions.

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